The other week at work I got hungry early in the day so I ran to the little marketplace down the hall from the labs I work in. I’d never seen the Golden Grahams S’mores bars before, but it sounded good so I grabbed one. The thing was awesome, but definitely not worth the $2.30 I was charged. And since I’m between semesters I have more time to cook, which means I have more opportunities to try new things, so I decided to come up with my own version. I used Golden Grahams cereal in my first attempt, and it was good, but my second attempt, with actual graham crackers was exactly what I wanted so I’ve decided to share the recipe. Unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures of the snack before we ate it all.
1 Box (14.4 oz) Honey Maid graham crackers – crushed
4 tablespoons of butter
10 oz mini marshmallows
½ cup chocolate chips
Crush graham crackers and put in large bowl for mixing. Melt butter in a non-stick pan Reserve 1 cup of marshmallows and add the rest to the melted butter, mixing continuously. Mix the melted and reserved marshmallows as well as the chocolate chips into the crushed graham crackers. Dump mixture into greased 9×13 pan, cover with wax paper and press down to a uniform layer. Allow to cool before cutting into bars.
Many of you probably know that I’m going back to school for a second degree, this time in Mechanical Design. Working full time, and going to school full time doesn’t leave a lot of extra time for other things, which is why I haven’t updated here lately, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been doing anything else. I’ve had to slow down my guitar building, but I’ve still managed to finish a couple custom requests and a couple extra guitars for my online store. They’re still selling pretty well, at an average of 2 a month, but I have far more ideas for builds than I can currently work on, which can be a little aggravating. Here are a couple of the recent builds:
In addition to the guitar building, I’ve also been writing. Not nearly as much as I would like, but I’m happy just to be able to write. I’ve mainly been working on the sequel to My Life As Death as well as the sequel to The Consciousness Puzzle. Both are coming along nicely but I have no idea when either will be done.
Next week is my final week of this semester, though, so I hope to be able to focus even more time on writing, and possibly guitar building in the near future, so I also hope to be updating this blog more frequently.
Amazon really created the whole e-book and indie-author revolution. And they’ve been the best choice for many, many authors since 2007. I was a little late to the party, publishing my first book in 2013, but they were still the biggest and best option for me. I experimented with trying other platforms over the years, but staying exclusive with Amazon always proved to be the right choice, until now.
I am happy to announce, that each of my books is now available on every e-book platform, as well as paperback. Additionally, hardback editions will be coming in the near future. I’m not sure what direction I will be going with future books, but right now I want to make sure my books are available to the largest audience, so you can find links to them on your favorite platforms including Apple, Kobo, Scribd, and more at:
I’ve been bouncing around between a few writing projects lately and want to decide on one to focus on, so I reached out to the two people who have been supporting my writing from the beginning, my brother and sister. One suggested working on the sequel to The Consciousness Puzzle while the other was emphatic about me continuing on with the sequel to My Life As Death. Since I got no resolution from turning to them, I’m now turning to the readers of this blog. Please let me know what you think:
For some reason I woke up early yesterday, even after going to bed much later than usual. Based on this, I really didn’t have high expectations for the day but I was pleasantly surprised. After finishing my coffee, I headed to my laptop and got some writing done. The sequel to The Consciousness Puzzle has been almost done for quite a while, but I wasn’t completed happy with a couple parts, though I didn’t know why. Listening to the Writing Excuses podcast has helped me identify what I need to do to help the story, so I decided to work on it and I made some nice progress.
When I got to a good stopping point on the writing, I moved in to my school work and managed to get that done. Afterwards, I wanted to do some guitar work, but the weather here in my part of Ohio made standing out in an uninsulated shed sound less appealing, so instead I stayed on the laptop, but switched over worked on a couple new guitar designs.
After working on the guitar designs, I actually got a great workout. I used to workout routinely, but the past year and a half has conspired against me and my workouts, so I was really happy with how well I did and how my body responded. Work, school and all my extracurricular activities will still make it difficult to get back into it as much as I would like, but I’ll be happy if I can get this type of workout twice a week.
Even with shoveling, showering and cooking dinner, I still had plenty of time to actual read for fun. I don’t spend nearly enough time reading, so it has taken way to long to get through even the second book of the Maze Runner series, but I’m enjoying it, even at this slow pace.
So all-in-all, Sunday was just about an ideal day for me. The only way it could have been better was if it was 70-75 degrees and I could have gotten on the motorcycle and out in my shed. I hope your Sunday was as good as mine.
I started writing my first novel on March 4th 2011. By that time I already had a general plot and several characters in mind. I’d even researched how to write a novel, and used many of the suggestions to document the characters and plot. I was 10,000 words into it before I realized it was terrible. All the preparation and research I’d done did not help that story at all, but I did take some of the character attributes and the character arcs, and use them in the first novel I managed to complete. That one was The Dark Genesis of Daniel James.
After completing Dark Genesis and self publishing it, I kind of stopped actively learning how to write better. I’d completed one book, and most experts agreed that the best thing you could do to continue getting better at writing is to actually write, so that’s what I did. I wrote a few more books and published two more through KDP. I wrote the books that I wanted to write and enjoyed doing so, but because at some point I would like to actually have a full time writing career, I realized I needed to get back to actively trying to learn how to be a better writer. Thankfully, in this day and age, there are quite a few resources for this. One of most helpful to me lately has been the Writing Excuses podcast (https://writingexcuses.com/).
Each episode of the podcast is 15-20 minutes long (because you’re in a hurry and we’re not that smart), and provides a ton of insight from a group of successful writers, often times featuring other extremely successful authors as guests. They’re also hilarious. I started back at season 1 episode 1, and I’ve made it up to season 6 episode 20. I’ve already learned so much, and I still have 11 more seasons to go until I’m caught up to their current episode. I can’t wait to see how much more I learn from this group. So for anyone looking for an easy way to learn from great authors, I highly recommend checking them out.
Today I received my second rejection letter. It was once again a courteous one, but it was also quite evidently a form letter so I didn’t get any direct feedback. One thing I was able to gather from it is that I might need to tweak my description. It’s a little hard to say for sure, though, because the only explanation was “Unfortunately, the project you describe does not suit our list at this time.” Maybe I’m not describing it well enough to catch their attention or maybe they just aren’t looking for a YA novel about a teen protagonist who has to kill people. It’s really hard say. One thing I do know, is that with each subsequent submission I have continued to make slight adjustments to my pitch, which I hope has improved it.
This rejection came from a submission I made two weeks ago, so I am cautiously optimistic that this two week turn around might be the norm, rather than the exception, though most of the places I’ve submitted to have stated turn around times of six weeks to six months, so maybe it is just rejections that have the quicker turn around. All I really know, is that I will continue submitting to agents and publishing houses and eventually, My Life As Death will be picked up. In the mean-time, I’ll keep writing and building guitars like this one I just finished today:
I’ve got a little more setup to do (mainly intonation and adding the serial number tag and strap buttons) but even though a customer said one of my previous builds “almost plays itself”, from a playability standpoint, this is probably the best guitar I’ve made. It plays so easily but I’m not 100% sure why. I do have a few ideas though, so hopefully I can keep that going with all my future builds.
It’s the last day of the holiday break which means tomorrow I have to return to my day job. I really don’t mind it going to work but I know I’m not going to have as much time as I want to continue working on all the projects I’ve got going. Thankfully, even though it started off with me not feeling well, I did end up having a pretty productive break. I’ve managed to complete some guitars and even sold this RG9 (serial number 0006) minutes after it went up online:
I also managed to query a few literary agents, which was a huge project on my to-do list. I think My Life As Death has a great shot at commercial success, so I decided long ago that it would be the one I use to get an agent. So far I’ve only received one rejection, and it was a very nice one, so I’m not discouraged yet. I also plan on continuing to query more agents, especially as others start to open up to submissions now that the New Year has started.
And probably just as important to my the well-being of my writing career, I’ve finally been able to get more writing done. School will be starting back up soon, so I know my time will become even more limited, but the writing is flowing nicely, so I expect to continue making progress on a couple of the books I have in the works. I don’t know if I will be sharing any of them on this site, but I will definitely keep you up-to-date with how they’re coming. And I’ll do the same with the guitars as well.
So, after about a month of dealing with this bug I’m finally starting to feel like myself again which means that I want to jump right in and start working on everything I haven’t been able to touch for the past several weeks. The weather isn’t cooperating completely, which does limit a little of what I can do, but I’ve already gone for a couple (extremely disappointing) runs, gotten some writing done and made some progress on a couple guitar builds that have been collecting dust for way too long. I’ve also queried a couple more agents for My Life As Death and will try to submit to at least one more today. All in all, it’s been a pretty productive couple of days, and I still have a few more before I have to return to work.
And now that I’m feeling better, I hope to update this blog a little more often. And hopefully I’ll have something to report in regards to an agent before too long. In the meantime, feel free to check out my completed guitars for sale: https://www.etsy.com/shop/RileyCustomGuitars
So I managed to finish the fall semester of school just before getting hit with some sort of bug that kicked my ass. Thankfully, I was able to submit my first proposal for My Life As Death to an agent before I ended up sick and unproductive for a couple weeks. Unfortunately, she didn’t feel the project was right for her. So I’m still looking for an agent, but I’m also starting to recover from whatever this is so I’ve already started submitting elsewhere.
I’m also feeling good enough to start working on other projects again so today I plan on getting some writing done, I just haven’t decided which book I’ll be working on. The sequel to My Life As Death is definitely one of my priorities, but several months ago I completely plotted out an action/adventure/mystery/sci-fi story that keeps popping back into my head. And one thing I’ve learned over the years is to listen when my inner voice is trying to tell me something, so I have a feeling that is the direction I will be going, at least for a little while.
The weather is also pretty decent for December here in Ohio, so I will probably try to do some work outside before the weather changes. I know I won’t get everything done that I want to, but bouncing between those few projects should make for an enjoyable week.